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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 22, 2014 • Issue 14:12:02

Street SmartsSM

Spreading the word: Marketing tactics for the MLS

By Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services

Affiliate partnerships, direct sales, print advertising, post cards, e-mails, faxes, phone calls, social media outreach – the list goes on. Each individual marketing tactic comes with its own method of styling and content. Using a combination of some or all of these media will be the source of your success in payments or in any other industry of your choosing.

In "Investing in partnerships," The Green Sheet, Nov. 10, 2014, issue 14:11:01, we discussed the practice of investing in affiliate relationships to win more business. With so many other possible ways of investing for your own success, we took to GS Online's MLS Forum to find out which recipe of marketing tactics the members found most reliable.

Marketing implementation

The professional roles and interests of readers of The Green Sheet vary widely, from merchant level salespeople (MLSs) to ISOs, to equipment vendors and value-added resellers who provide all the ancillary products and services associated with card payments. Every reader has found success in his or her own right through the application of a variety of promotional tactics.

We asked our readers to divulge their recipes in securing new relationships throughout their careers. Among other questions, we sought to find out the core elements of their campaigns by asking: What makes your company successful in its marketing implementation?

Do nothing, get nothing

Understandably, the initial responses demonstrated some reluctance from the community to share their formulas for productivity. MLS Forum member 1slick67 told us, "We use a special blend of 21 herbs and spices (it's a secret)." Nothing much was divulged there, obviously. The comment, however, paved the way for additional candid responses, which revealed to us a few things about the sentiment of new MLSs and veterans alike.

Our favorite response also helped kick start the discussion and expressed the value of implementing a solid marketing campaign. Rbelcher told us, "Marketing, my favorite subject, as a wise man once said, 'A terrible thing happens when you don't market.' 'What's that?' 'Nothing.'"

The power of referral relationships

Forum user ber was the first to share the various tactics his ISO employs to achieve new business. "Referral relationships with B2B service providers and vendors have been our focus and provide the best return on time and effort for the merchants we target: bars, restaurants, and nightclubs." This comment holds weight carried over from our previous article that affiliates are essential to grow out productivity with exponential returns.

"Targeted cold calling, meaning we know who to ask for and have preliminary info on the business, has been the most successful form of marketing for us," ber added. "The fact that we have a local presence, a reputation within our target niche, and great reference clients are some of the reasons I think we have success in targeted cold calling.

"We do bump into folks that don't know us or haven't heard of us, but most of the time they know the software we sell, have seen it on TV, know one of our reference clients, or have seen us at a tradeshow ... Or have received a postcard or call from us."

The critical role of direct marketing

The insight ber offered supports the idea that direct marketing is still the number one means of sharing your value proposition. The important item to notice, however, is that the supplementation of marketing tactics helps direct sales by establishing a positive reputation for you in the community you solicit. It helps to have other means of influence to pad the direct sale and create talking points with prospects.

In addition, ber shared his results with the forum and outlined the process he uses to incorporate ancillary marketing into the direct sales call. "We are in our 9th month of a campaign sending hand written, hand addressed letters to targeted merchants addressed to the owner or IT director, followed by a call the next week and then a visit that same week. Results were mixed across our sales agents, ourselves, areas of our market, merchant size, and across industries."

Room for multiple approaches

Marketing in our industry is ever-evolving, so it is difficult to express one tried and true method of ensuring that more merchants will be exposed to your presentation. By applying value and taking care of your clients, you will eventually rise above the competition, regardless of which tactics you may use to attract new business.

Side Note:Advice from marketing and partnership mavens

For more perspectives on effective marketing, check out this sampling of articles from our archives:

  • "How to grow your business with referrals," by Michael Gavin, The Green Sheet, Oct. 13, 2014, issue 14:10:01
  • "Marketing success in the mobile age," The Mobile Buzz, The Green Sheet, May 12, 2014, issue 14:05:01
  • "The mix moves the message," by Nancy Drexler, The Green Sheet, July 22, 2013, issue 13:07:02
  • "15 tips to boost merchant level sales" by Peggy Bekavac Olson, The Green Sheet, March 13, 2013, issue 13:03:01.
  • "Thriving in a disruptive market: MLS strategies," The Green Sheet, Jan. 28, 2013, issue 13:01:02
  • "Thriving in a disruptive market: ISO strategies,"The Green Sheet, Jan. 14, 2013, issue 13:01:01
And here are additional articles that explore the topic of partnerships:
  • "Leveling the playing field for the not-so-super ISO," by Nancy Drexler, The Green Sheet, Dec. 8, 2014, issue 14:12:01
  • "Agent playbook on vetting partners," The Green Sheet, Sept. 22, 2014, issue 14:09:02
  • "Five keys to successful partnerships," by Dale S. Laszig, The Green Sheet, Aug. 26, 2013, issue 13:08:02.
  • "Distancing yourself from the pack through partnerships," by Christopher Briller and Sean O'Neil, The Green Sheet, Jan. 28, 2013, issue 13:01:02
  • "Partnerships fuel portfolio growth," The Green Sheet, April 9, 2012, issue 12:04:01
  • "Finding the right payment processor," by John Barrett, The Green Sheet, July 11, 2011, issue 11:07:01
  • "Making VAR relationships work for you," by Ken Musante, The Green Sheet, Oct. 25, 2010, issue 10:10:02
end of article

Tom Waters has been dedicated to the merchant service sales profession since 2001. Currently, he is responsible for cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs in information technology, accounting, sales and marketing in his role as Sales Director of Bank Associates Merchant Services (www.bams.com). Using fresh and matter-of-fact training methods, Tom has contributed to the success of thousands of agents, affiliates and clients. He can be reached via email through t.waters@bams.com or via phone at 347-651-1065.

Ben Abel is Regional Director at Bank Associates Merchant Services. Since joining the team in 2006, he has risen through company ranks with a paradigm that his success was measured by the success of those around him. Ben is a dedicated, pioneering trainer whose methods of merchant services consultation have helped many agents expand their portfolios in terms of processing volume, deal count and profitability. He can be contacted at 347-866-9571 or ben@bams.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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